My own journey through life, focusing mainly on my personal struggles with depression and my mental health.

13th May 2012

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Accepting the Uncontrollable

I’m currently sitting here with numerous zits on my face (I stopped using anything on my skin other than water) and a few pounds heavier than I was a month ago (I also stopped going to the gym and eating well). I feel sort of down that I look pretty awful, but more importantly, these two issues represent entirely different kinds of problems in my life: those that I have a hand in and those that I don’t have any control over.

Now, I suppose that I could go out and purchase some cleanser or lotion that is meant for acne-prone skin, but I recently got tired of using so much on my skin and opted to use nothing except for water. I may have a hand in this, but the fact that my skin is broken out is something that I can’t control. I can’t change the fact that my genes leave me with a hereditary-inclination to get acne from time to time. 

On the other hand, my weight gain is entirely in my own hands. I can’t blame anything or anybody but myself. Sure, my genes may have a hand to play in this, but it mostly comes down to my own actions. I am definitely guilty of not always eating the best foods, as the empty pint of Ben & Jerry’s in my garbage can could attest to. 

Both of these problems in my life are substantial to me, but they are different types of problems. I can’t control that my skin has decided to break out or the fact that my lineage has given me an inclination to breaking out. I can worry about the fact that my skin currently looks like that of a prepubescent kid (note: I’m 23, not 12), but there is no point in worrying about this. I can’t change the fact that my skin is breaking out. I can change the way I eat, however, and start practicing good habits like working out. 

What I’m trying to get at is this: worrying about certain things is fine, if it is something that is within our own control or something that we could change ourselves. But worry is often used on issues out of our control, like the fact that a friend isn’t returning your calls or, in my case, the fact that my skin is broken out. Often times, this worry just makes the situation worse and sometimes even leads us to act recklessly or do things that we wouldn’t do otherwise. Today I’m going to work on accepting that some things are just outside of my control, and thus they are not things that I need to worry about. 

Tagged: self-helpdepressionanxiety

6th May 2012

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Weekend Roundup

Forgive me for that title… I tried to think of a funny/witty title, but it just wasn’t happening. I hope anybody who reads this can understand. With that said, I have decided that I am going to try to post something new each weekend. I’d like to recap how the week went and also post some positive thoughts for the coming week.

This week went pretty well, but there are still some areas for improvement. I recently bought a book of daily affirmations, and each day at work I have been copying down the key thoughts or quotes that are included for that day and placing it on my cubicle wall. It may appear to be a bit too “life coachy” to some, but it has definitely been a good reminder for me that there is more to life than the little moments of depression.

I’m also holding on to the hopefulness that I wrote about a couple weeks ago. I realize that it’s hard to look towards the future and try and be optimistic when you’re in the midst of a depression, but sometimes the hope of a better tomorrow is all that gets you through the day. These two things have helped me have a pretty good week, but there are a few negative ideas in the back of my mind that keep surfacing.

One thing that keeps coming up in my head is this idea that I am always at fault when something goes wrong or that I am forgettable. I think it’s hard for those I work with to see me as a homebody, but that is a role that has always come very naturally. At work I am more social and friendly, but the moment I get home I am fine, and even happiest, being by myself. I still enjoy hanging out with friends from time to time, but something about this week just felt off. I have jokingly been referring to it as “Ignore Ben” week. 

I feel like I’ve been reaching out to friends and not getting anywhere, so rather than reach out to them over and over, I have just dropped it. I say that I am fine waiting for them to get back to me, but somewhere in my head is this recurring idea of inadequacy. Somehow I am responsible for them not texting/calling me back, or somehow I did something wrong that made them exclude me. I have always struggled with this, and I’m not quite sure how to shake it from my mind.

I guess my big fear is that I’ll try and wait for my friends to reach out to me, rather than reaching out to them, and eventually they’ll just forget about me. I seek this validation from others, rather than finding it from within. I am fine with being alone sometimes and not being attached to my phone at all hours of the day, but I still worry about being forgotten. 

Perhaps this week I’ll work harder at finding this contentedness inside myself and continue working to curb these negative thoughts. I am at my best when I am being myself… Not when I am working to change to meet the needs of others. I may not have found my niche just yet, but at this moment in time I am EXACTLY where I need to be, doing EXACTLY what I need to be doing. I may not be perfect, but I am a work in progress.

My goal for next week? Get back to the gym! It’s been two weeks since I’ve been.

Tagged: self-helpself-acceptance

29th April 2012

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A Work in Progress

It’s been a while since I posted last, and since then I have been through the usual ups and downs of life, but I kept prioritizing other things over writing. I promised I would write something after a tv show, or after showering, but it clearly didn’t happen. Anyways, I’m finally getting some ideas out.

Lately this idea of change and progress has been resonating with me. It’s almost as if we are all works of art, being added to little by little with each passing moment. We may never be perfect, but all that matters is that we are being worked on with each day. Everything that occurs throughout the day has an effect on us. We may not choose to act on it, but that inaction is sometimes more powerful than any action we could take. Regardless, we choose to act or not act to everything that happens to us. Sometimes these instances make us feel good and sometimes they make us feel bad, but they are still a part of the entire “work”. 

I picture a painter continuously working on his painting, adding slight tweaks here and there. Some of the changes may not be optimal to others, but all that matters is that the artist acts according to his own self. Really, that is all that matters, right? As long as he is happy with his own work at the end of the day, he can be content. He may not like all of the minute details of this work, but he can always readjust them later and even change them entirely.

I picture myself as this painting, with me being the painter. We are all painters with our own unique paintings. Each day, each moment we are adding different things into the painting, or adjusting details we may not like. All that matters is that we continue adding to this painting and that we realize it for its own uniqueness. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it never will be, but there’s always the chance to adjust these little imperfections and keep painting. 

All I can do is to keep painting, until I can love my work’s unique and sometimes abstract qualities. I can be content knowing that it shows what I have to offer and that is a beautiful thing: to realize that what I paint each day is something to be proud of and love. If you can’t seem to do anything else for yourself, just make sure to keep painting.

Tagged: self-helpdepressionself-acceptance

16th April 2012

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Gotta Keep Your Head Up

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

I thought about abandoning my thoughts and hoping that they would just simply be forgotten after my first entry. To be fair, it was written anonymously, with only two of my friends being given the URL to read it, but I felt embarrassed. I was tired at the time I wrote it, and sleep deprivation always seems to magnify seemingly minute problems into problems that suddenly seem devastating. However, after some thought on the matter, I decided to continue writing. While I was speaking from a fairly angry and fed-up place, these thoughts are just as valid as any others I may feel, and to be fair, they aren’t limited to days where I’m sleep deprived. So with that, I decided to write some more.

As may be apparent from the quote at the top of this entry, I’m trying to embrace this new philosophy of hopefulness. Life may truly suck at times, but odds are that these situations are not life-ruining. At the core of this belief is this cautious optimism that these moments don’t last forever. Life goes on. It gets better. But while we find ourselves in these situations that move us into this funk, optimism is hard to maintain. Speaking from experience though, I am sure of one thing that will always be there to assist with difficult life situations: hope. 

I looked for a quote that I remember reading before, possibly in a book. I couldn’t find the exact quote, but while searching for it I found the quote mentioned above. Both of these quotes contain much of the same message: a person without hope is a person who is lost. We all have ideas that we wish to spread throughout the world or lives we wish to touch, it’s all a matter of finding out WHAT we wish to accomplish in our lives and HOW we plan on accomplishing it. Without hope, however, these goals will not be accomplished.

I may not be the supreme authority on this, seeing as how I am only a 23-year old individual living in a small town in Idaho, but I am confident that hope is a starting point to creating purpose. Perhaps not creating just a better self for us to become, but ultimately a better world or even a better tomorrow. I believe that life truly does have something unique and exciting in store for each of us. Now it is just finding out what that thing is. I’m starting small, with just the hope that my depression will eventually get better, but I’m confident that there is more out there for me than this. With that said, I’ll conclude with another great quote that I found.

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.

—Robert Frost

Tagged: hopeoptimismdepressionself-help

13th April 2012

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The Side Unseen

Well, that’s certainly a dramatic title. I don’t intend to always post depressing things although I suppose I could since I don’t foresee many people viewing this, but today that is what is on my mind: depression. It’s hard to feel down from time to time, for sure, but even worse is constantly feeling this way… Feeling hopeless to change these feelings into positive ones. Afraid that everyone around you will ultimately chip away the facade that you are a truly happy individual. Maybe even a little desperate, since none of the other treatment plans have worked. I think all three of those statements apply to my depression.

I remember being diagnosed with depression back in 9th grade. Soon after my grandmother died, my life fell into a state of disrepair, and I’m beginning to think that it may never fully be put back together. That was roughly 8 or 9 years ago, and I still view it as the start of my journey into my own mental health journey… One which will surely continue on for the rest of my life.

I started out with a prescription for Paxil, and since then I have been prescribed a number of different prescriptions, seen a few different therapists/psychiatrists and attempted to remove known triggers from my life. Things will improve for a moment, but then the depression symptoms come back.

I often try and suppress these feelings since any mention of them seems to place everyone around me into the therapist role. “You should workout more…”, “You should try to eat healthier…”. I’m not quite sure what is left to be recommended, but thus far it has all been unable to really curb my depressed state.

The smile on my face continues to grow weaker and the bright energy I try and carry with me is getting dimmer. I’m finding it harder and harder to keep up the pace I have tried to maintain through life, and I’m worried that any day could be the day I finally suffer some type of mental breakdown. 

Everybody says that I have no reason to be depressed. I had no major problems growing up, I have always been given great opportunities to succeed… Somewhere down the line though I keep hitting these roadblocks. The self-doubt sets in, or the  insecurities that I am not worthy of good things in life pop up. The smallest of things seem to trigger these emotions in me, and immediately my mind is back to the fragile state it’s often in.

When daily life seems to constantly throw these triggers your way, what is the proper response? Stupid things, like an unanswered text, or a comment taken out of context are able to immediately take me back to a mental ground zero. I guess these moments are meant to be combated with positive thinking, but I can’t manage to force positive thoughts into my head for more than a passing moment. 

Something bad happens in my life and I immediately go into self-blame mode. Somebody said something mean? I guess it must have been something I did to make them act that way. Even when a situation is clearly not made bad on my part, my brain says that I am the reason things went bad. I am the inadequate one or the jerk who forced the situation to go bad like it did.

It’s tough to always be placing the blame on oneself. The positive thoughts aren’t going to be implanted there by any pill or any counselor. Those things may help alleviate the situation, but ultimately the responsibility lies on one person: me. And that’s where I’m stuck. How are you supposed to start believing the positive things about yourself and not the negative? How can you convince yourself that you aren’t to blame for everything bad in your life? How are you supposed to change these negative thoughts when you have been holding on to them for so long and convinced yourself that they must be true?

Tagged: depressionmental healthself-help